BlogTalkRadio.com is a website that allows anyone with an internet connection to host their own internet radio show. Internet radio and podcasts have soared in popularity over the last few years. Let’s discover why and how these new technology mediums can benefit you and your book. Read on for more info. Or go eat a sandwich. Either works for me. I don’t have anywhere to be today.

Contents:
1. History
2. Searching For Your Niche
3. Radio Show Formats
4. How To Be A Guest
5. How To Be A Great Guest
6. Promote Your Show
7. Follow Up
8. Host Your Own Show
9. The Audience
10. Press
11. In Closing
12. Additional Resources

History

Internet Radio
We’ve had terrestrial radio for decades now, but one day, on his drive to work, some computer geek turned on the radio in his 1992 Geo Prism and all he heard for the duration of his commute were advertisements. Not a single note of music came through the speakers. He had a realization that if people around the world could create their own internet radio stations, then the audience wouldn’t have to sit through hours upon hours of mundane advertisements in hopes of hearing their favorite song. He immediately turned his car around, went home to him computer, and figured out a way for people to set up their own radio stations at home that would stream audio to the internet. He’s probably a millionaire now. Of course, I can’t back up any of these facts.

Point is, suddenly hundreds of thousands of people were running radio stations from their basements and bedrooms that people online could listen to on their computers simply by clicking a link on a website. There were shows about everything! Some internet radio pirates would spotlight undiscovered music, while others would use the medium to host talk radio about the benefits of using name brand Q-Tips instead of the generics. There was definitely something for everyone.

The only downside to internet radio was that you had to be at your computer in order to listen to it. Aside from walking down the street with your computer hoisted up on your shoulder ala some kind of 1980’s boom box with a wire connecting to your home internet port, there weren’t many options.

This of course led to the invention of…

Podcasting
With the invention of the portable digital audio player (most commonly known as an iPod, but apparently there are other brands. Not sure if I believe that) we now had a vehicle for our music and radio to come with us. One day, while listening to his favorite “Heartbreaking Ballads of the 80’s” internet radio station, some computer geek’s mom called down into his basement bedroom and asked him to run to the store for some milk. Frustrated that he would miss the ending of his favorite song, “My Love is Like a Synthesizer,” he had a crazy idea… What if he could put the radio show on his iPod? He immediately locked his bedroom door and figured out a way to put radio shows onto his MP3 player. He’s probably a millionaire now. Of course, these facts are absolutely made up.

Podcasts are growing wildly in popularity and are currently a large source of entertainment during many people’s daily commutes. Next time you’re in a train, plane, subway, or bus, look around at how many of your fellow passengers have a cord running from their ears to their pockets. Chances are that a good 60% of those folks are listening to podcasts specifically, and more importantly, they COULD be listening to you.

BlogTalkRadio
Why BlogTalkRadio (BTR) is such a powerful tool is that it combines both Internet Radio and Podcasting into one simple website that does not require you to be a computer geek. It simply requires you to be able to read the instructions, and you can be broadcasting a show online in no time.
BTR Hosts schedule the air-times for their shows in advance. Listeners can go onto their Show’s personalized pages and click a reminder button that will email them when the show is going to air. If the listener is on that show’s BTR when the broadcast is scheduled to begin, it will start playing, and they can enjoy it from the comfort of their computer chair.

Where BlogTalkRadio becomes awesome is that several hours after each show has aired, they are available from the show’s page as an MP3 download where users can store the show on their hard drive and then add it to their iPod in order to listen later. BAM: Instant podcast.

I know, I know… we’re here to promote your book and I’m just giving you info on the differences between internet radio and podcasts. There’s no way this foundational knowledge will be important as you read on. That would be ludicrous, right?

As I mentioned, internet radio allows everyday people like you and me (or just me, if you’re a weirdo) to claim a small part of the internet where we can talk about absolutely anything we want to. And I do mean ANYTHING. Take a quick spin around the BlogTalkRadio home page and you will see what’s broadcasting live at any given time. There are shows about politics, finances, sports, culture, family, and of course … (wait for it)… BOOKS!

The best part about all of these people broadcasting their shows is that they need not only things to talk about, but people to talk to. And that’s where we, the authors, come in.

Searching for your Niche

There’s a handy-dandy search window in the upper right corner of the website that allows you to plug in some keywords for what you’d like to listen to. A quick search of the word “Books” brings up around 325 shows discussing books in some capacity. Right there are 325 shows that could potentially like to discuss your book.

Looking to siphon out the riff raff and go right for the jugular of your target audience? Let’s say that your book was a romance novel. A query of “Romance Novel” yields over 500 radio shows dedicated to both books and romance, and I bet the people listening to these shows would absolutely love your book.

Keep in mind that as an author, you are not stuck to appearing on book and author related podcasts. There are also tons of BTR news stations available as well. If the subject of your book lines up with a current event, then it’s more than likely that you could appear on their show as an expert on the subject. Keep an open mind and don’t miss an opportunity to find additional niches. If your book is non-fiction, run a simple search for whatever your book is about. I’m sure that you’ll be surprised at the amount of people who are talking about that subject. If you can get onto one of those shows, you’ll be speaking directly to your target audience.

Radio Show Formats

Every show has its own format, and I suggest signing up for an account with the website and listening to many episodes to feel out which style works best for you and what you’re trying to accomplish. The major formats that I hear most often in the world of book-related podcasts are:

Book Review shows
Occasionally, these shows are the hosts talking to either a co-host or just whoever happens to be listening about what books they read over the last day/month/year, and giving verbal reviews of them. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to these types of shows. Sometimes the host might only discuss certain genres of books, or they might be open to anything. With review shows you have to realize up front that not everyone is going to love your book, so you have to be prepared to get a less than sparkling review of your book. It just happens sometimes. If the host sounds like someone who might genuinely enjoy your book, you should consider sending them one! They can’t talk about it if they don’t even know that it exists, right? More on contacting hosts below.

Author Interviews
Another popular type of show is the author interview where the host will actually hold conversation with the writer to discuss the book, what it’s about, where people can buy it, what makes them tick, future projects, etc. They’re very informative and allow the author to make a connection with anyone listening. These types of shows will usually get you more sales since readers will feel like they know you as a person from hearing you talk and you play a larger part in deciding what points you will cover and the topics that will be discussed.

How to be a Guest

Contacting the host
Once you’ve decided what type of show or shows you’d like to participate in, make a list of the shows on BTR that you feel that you’d be a good fit for. Jot down the names of the shows, or bookmark the show’s page in your browser for quick reference. Get in the habit of actually listening to some episodes so you don’t accidentally look like a fool by offering to talk about your Sci-Fi Thriller on a show about Self-Help books.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, look on the show’s BTR page, as hosts will typically provide info or links to sites where they tell you how to be a guest on the show. Each show has their own set of guidelines or criteria that authors and books must meet in order to be considered. You’ll also be provided with a contact email address or (better yet) a form to submit.

Booking a Review
If you’re inquiring about being a guest on a book review type show, then offer to send copies to the host (if they’re not already mandatory). Then be sure to actually send them. In fact, send a whole press kit with our book and a one-sheet that has all pertinent info (ISBN#, page count, date of publication, etc…). Once the host has received the book, you should get an email letting you know when the show which will feature your book will air. Mark your calendar.

Booking an Interview
Once the host gets around to fielding your request they’ll usually send an email of acceptance or rejection to having you as a guest. If you get the green light, then you’ll more than likely be provided with dates and times of upcoming scheduled shows, and you can pick one that suits your schedule. Mark your calendar.

Once you’ve confirmed, the host will send you a call-in phone number that you’ll dial on the day of the interview and in a perfect world, they are on the other end waiting for you. They may also send you a script for the show (see below).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since BlogTalkRadio hosts live all over the world, be sure to find out what time zone they are in and do the difficult mathematical conversions to ensure you show up at the right time. Google can help you with this process if you quit math after graduating high school, like I did.

How to be a Great Guest

Some notes on Hosts
Keep in mind that not every host out in internet radio land is a professional. Yes, there are folks who do these shows as their full time jobs and there are lots of amateurs looking to cut their teeth in the world of broadcasting, and this is their doorway. Under no circumstances should you assume that an amateur Host will not have a good show. More often than not, they run the tightest ships since they are trying to prove themselves. Be flexible with the hosts if technical issues arise or something unexpected happens. You’d want them to do the same for you.

One major difference that I’ve noticed amongst hosts is the use of scripts. The professionals will provide you with a show script ahead of time so that you can follow along and know where you are in the show. You’ll also see a list of the questions they plan to ask you. A few days before the show, ensure that you give them a read and maybe even jot down any hot topics you want to discuss during your interview. Is your book on sale? Have an upcoming appearance or signing? Giving something away? You don’t want to forget about these things once you’re on the air and time is flying by (and it will!). If you see any questions on the script that you’d prefer not be asked, let the host know. They’re not out to Bill O’Reilly you, they just want to have a good conversation. One the opposite side of the coin, if there are particular questions you’d liked to be asked, also let them know. They’ll always be accommodating to those requests to ensure that everyone benefits from the upcoming conversation. You should have a message that you want to deliver, and they want to have a great show.

Depending on what type of show you or your book will be appearing on, take note of any special requests the host may have. For instance, they may ask you to call in to the show a few minutes early so that the two of you can talk a bit and get familiar with one another. If you’re doing a reading from your book, some hosts may ask that you pre-record it in order to have a perfect reading on file. This way you don’t get crack under the pressure of a live audience, your phone doesn’t drop the call mid-sentence, or they may just want to hear what you are reading. If you do not have the tools to pre-record your segment, let the host know and work out an alternative method. If you have any special requests of the host, just ask! They’re usually nice people who appreciate anything they can do to make your segment as easy going and natural as possible.

Be Yourself… and be Fun
There’s nothing worse than listening to an author interview only to discover that they have no personality. Here’s a few things you’ll want to keep in mind during your live interview:

  • You cannot be shy on the air and expect your host to dig interesting facts and funny anecdotes out of you.
  • Come prepared.
  • Don’t give simple Yes or No answers to questions.
  • Expand on your ideas.
  • Don’t talk when the host talking.
  • Do talk when the host is not talking. Awkward silence is bad.
  • Be funny if you can.
  • Don’t try to be funny if you’re not funny.
  • Smile when you talk.
  • Don’t be inebriated.
  • Always have your book close by in case you need to reference or read from it.
  • Use the opportunity to ‘sell’ your book because you can do it better than anyone else.
  • Don’t do the interview in the same room as your crying children or your hungry dog. You could put them in a room together though and that should solve both problems.

Since you’re getting a platform to discuss your work, there are some things you should ALWAYS mention. If the host is good, they’ll bring these up during the course of the conversation. It’s also very easy to get sidetracked once a conversation has started and next thing you know, your segment is over!

Always remember to mention the following 5 things while on the air:

  1. Your elevator speed (a 10 second spiel explaining what your book is about)
  2. Your website address
  3. Your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  4. Where people can find buy your book
  5. How they will benefit from reading it

Promote Your Show

So you’ve found a BTR show that feels like a good match for you and your book. You’ve emailed the host and they’re looking forward to speaking about you or reviewing your book. Now what?

Now you go and promote it! Put it on your website, Twitter about it, create event invitations on Facebook and Goodreads and let the world know! Get friends and family to check it out and afterward have them provide honest feedback (especially if you’re being interviewed). They may be able to point out little things that you did or didn’t do that you can improve on in the next round. You’ll be a pro before you know it!

The more people who listen to the show, the more books you can possibly sell. The beauty of BlogTalkRadio is that even if people don’t listen live, they can always download it later and still get the same great message! You might not see a spike in sales immediately following the show, however, a month later you might be surprised and more and more people share the show with their friends.

Follow Up

It might sound like common sense, but you’d be amazed how often this part is overlooked: after the show has taken place, it’s important that you take a few minutes to email the host and thank them for having you as a guest. Depending on how your show went, they may offer to book you again in the future, or encourage you to email them once you’ve released a new book. More often than not, I’ve also had responses from hosts letting me know that they are passing along my book/info to another show host where I’d be a good fit. I’ve gotten guest-blogging opportunities and reviews from the host’s word of mouth. Follow the host or show on Twitter and become their friends on Facebook. They’re part of your network now!

Host your own Show

If you write in a smaller genre and are having trouble finding radio stations to match your book or subject, don’t fret. In fact, if you have the time to dedicate, why not start your own weekly radio program about that very topic? Chances are that there’s an audience for it, but nowhere for them to go to discuss. Start the radio show and you could build a reader base relatively quickly. Use your resources!

The Audience

There’s no surefire way to tell how many people are listening/have listened to your BlogTalkRadio show, but assume that each station has its own built in crowd and they are growing all the time. If someone finds a show they like, it’s not uncommon for them to listen to the archived episodes where they just might run across your book review or interview. If you get on board with some smaller podcasts when they’re starting off, either as an “expert” in a particular area, or just as a great guest, don’t be surprised when they are emailing you on a regular basis to have you back. Make sure that with each visit you have the opportunity to promote your book.

Press

Once you have successfully been a guest on several podcasts, don’t forget to add them to your resume! Especially if you want to do readings or presentations based around your book, people will want to hear what you sound like, so give it to them! If you have a Press area on your website (you do, don’t you?) make sure you have a downloadable MP3, a link to the show (where it can be downloaded), or use BTR’s awesome ‘embedded player’ feature to let visitors listen directly from your website!

If you have a Press or Media section on your website, also be sure to post links to book reviews, print articles, or anything else positive about your book.

In Closing

BlogTalkRadio is still fairly new and they are always expanding with fresh ideas, so I’m reasonably sure that I’ve only tipped the iceburg in this article. Visit the website often and run lots of searches since new shows and topics are being added each day.

Lastly, there are a couple of great book related podcasts that helped me out along the way, and below you can find links to their shows. Give them a listen, and if you’d like to be a guest, just following their guidelines. They’re great, professional people who are easy to work with, and I promise they’ll help make you look good.

Page Readers with Nanci Arvizu
BK Media Entertainment
A Book and a Chat with Story Heart
Authors Read with Lillian Brummet

Looking for more information on how to promote your book via social networking? Check out my other articles in this series:

Promoting Your Book Online through Social Networking: Facebook.com
Promoting Your Book Online through Social Networking: Goodreads.com
Promoting Your Book Online through Social Networking: Shelfari.com
Promoting Your Book Online through Social Networking: Paperbackswap.com

You might also enjoy:
5 Titles on Book Marketing and Promotion that You Need to Read


Weston Locher is author of the humor book, Musings on Minutiae, which collects 50 hilarious anecdotes about life with frenetic felines, working in the corporate world, living in an urban apartment complex, and much more!

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Last Updated: January 3, 2012